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Mise En Place Bistro, student operated, ready for public dining debut
Restaurant/learning lab opens to public for first time at Greater Lafayette Career Academy
Note: I apologize if this is a rerun in your Friday morning inbox. Due to a technical issue, an earlier version of this edition went out to a small number of subscribers.
Today’s edition is sponsored by Purdue Convocations, which presents “Jersey Boys,” the Tony Award-winning story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Tuesday, April 19, at Purdue’s Elliott Hall of Music. For ticket information and more, scroll through today’s edition.
RESERVATIONS OPEN: CAREER ACADEMY’S MISE EN PLACE BISTRO OPEN
The newest dining experience in Lafayette has one of the tightest windows of opportunity.
For the next two Tuesdays and Thursdays, Mise En Place Bistro – part of the high school culinary program at the Greater Lafayette Career Academy – will open to the public.
This week was all about two days of soft openings for the restaurant setting in the Career Academy, a career-path cooperative between Lafayette, Tippecanoe and West Lafayette school corporations that opened three years ago in the former Lafayette Life corporate offices at South 18th Street and Teal Road.
Students in Chad Young’s culinary classes have been working with the state-of-the-art kitchen equipment since the Career Academy opened.
“But this is the first time in three years that we’ve been able to open the restaurant,” Young said. “So, we’ve been working out the kinks. And we can’t wait for everyone to come try it.”
Here’s the deal …
Question: Tell about the bistro’s name. How'd that come about?
Chad Young: Mise en place is a term that we use widely in the culinary industry. The students know exactly what that means. It means to put everything in place. If you watch a Food Network show or a chef doing your demo, and when they have all their ingredients measured out, they're already diced, they're already measured out and good to go, then that's basically Mise En Place. So, it means to put in place.
Question: How was your soft opening?
Chad Young: It was good. The first day was a little unnerving. But you know what, it's supposed to be. That's why we do soft openings. And it was literally the first time the students got to do it from front to back, meaning an order was placed, ticket came up, produce the ticket, get it sent out, accept payment, process the payment. That was a very first time, the very first day we opened, that the students ever got to do that straight through. It was a bit of a learning curve, but we made quick corrective actions. And the following opening that Thursday, the students did a great job. They corrected everything that was a bit of a struggle on Tuesday.
Question: Everything you’re doing in your class was leading up to this moment, right?
Chad Young: Absolutely everything we do in class. From first semester with knife skills to cooking methods, to a menu planning, producing recipes. The menu was built off of the curriculum. So everything that's on the menu is basically their final exam. And from a practical standpoint, we explore all different cooking methods. We take Monday, Wednesday and Friday to prep for our service on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Everything that they've done all semester long is being put into action right now.
Question: Tell about the class. How many students do you have this semester?
Chad Young: There are 10 students in Culinary 1. And there are five in Culinary 2. Culinary 1 is basically the foundation of what culinary arts is. It's pretty much them doing all kinds of cooking methods, honing their skills, practicing consistency, all of those things, and customer service. Culinary 2 has some of that, but we also dive deeper into baking and pastry and the nutrition side of culinary.
Question: What’s the setup of the dining? What is set up to replicate a restaurant?
Chad Young: I don't even like to call it the restaurant. I call it a learning lab, because it is a learning environment. It is an educational environment. And that's the very first thing I want the community to know is that it may, outside looking in, seem as though we are running a restaurant. But in true essence, the students are constantly learning, constantly honing their skills.
Question: Do you expect the community to have some grace in this time? Or should they come expecting the greatest things, every time?
Chad Young: They’re going to expect the greatest things, which is fine. People who know me know I'm a perfectionist, and I have high standards. The students know that. If there was one thing about the soft opening that I can 100% feel confident about was that the food was good. Did we have long ticket times? Absolutely. It was our first day. But no food got sent back, and I take pride in that. Everyone that dined with us that day on a soft opening was very impressed and pleased with how the food turned out and how well the customer service was. I would hope 100% that the community would have just a little grace, because, after all, the students are still learning.
Q: How many people can you serve in a given shift?
Chad Young: The restaurant can seat between 75 and 100. Have we had that volume? Absolutely not during the soft opening. But I do anticipate the numbers tripling next week when we do our grand opening.
Q: Are you going to need reservations to get in?
Chad Young: We will gladly accept reservations. However, reservations are not required. They do help us out , though.
Question: What is the long-term plan for Mise En Place? Is this going to be a two-week window every semester? Or is it something that someday will be open permanently?
Chad Young: The plan right now is open late fall. And we'll do exactly what we did this year, because I think it works well for the students. Next year, class size is up 50%, which was my goal. And those students will basically be starting from scratch. I want to make sure that they are learning and honing those skills before they get into the lab part of the restaurant.
Question: What can people expect from the menu?
Chad Young: You're going to expect a French-inspired menu. It is not a French cuisine, per se. It is French inspired, though, because the French are the founding fathers of culinary. It's in our curriculum that we study, with the kitchen grade system – executive chef, sous chef, on down the line – all of that is modeled after (Auguste) Escoffier, who is the father of French cuisine and modern cuisine. That's what I modeled the menu after. Not only that, but the menu was 100% curriculum driven. So there's all different kinds of cooking methods. But we’ve got some traditional French things on there as well – everything from salads to soups to desserts, and then of course, our main courses.
Question: What kind of pricing is there? Is it a flat rate or menu pricing?
Chad Young: Everything is priced in even numbers, because that's what the French do. You won’t find things in our restaurant over the $12 to $15 or $16 range – $20 would be the absolute max, and that will be a special that we do. … For the most part, I'm trying to keep it very affordable and still generate some revenue so that we can offer scholarships, we can have something go toward field trips and, obviously, stocking the restaurant.
Question: Where are your students heading after this? Do you have a lot of kids going to culinary school? Heading out and wading through tons of openings at restaurants?
Chad Young: I kid you not, but just 15 minutes ago, I had a gentleman ask me if there was a student interested in the restaurant industry in Delphi. Normally, it's local community restaurant owners and small business owners that are asking me, do I have any students that are looking for a job. But for someone from Delphi to ask me, they were in dire straits. What I'm doing is I'm preparing students for anything and everything, from going directly into the workforce or going to post-secondary schools, like culinary schools. Right now, I have three students that have committed to Johnson & Wales (University) in Charlotte, North Carolina – one of the top culinary programs in the country. And I have one student that committed to Sullivan University in Louisville.
Question: How are the nerves for next week?
Chad Young: No. I mean, I was nervous yesterday. Like I said, I'm a perfectionist, and I have high standards for myself, as well as the students. If I'm nervous about anything, it's about meeting my expectations. It's not about the students’ performance, because I know they'll do fine. They're actually excited. I have a lot of student athletes in my culinary class. And, of course, they set goals for themselves. They treat it as like a competition. The two guys on the grill station this week were telling each other, “We’ve got two more minutes to go.” And I told them, “No, class isn’t over for 30 minutes.” They were all, “No, chef, we’ve got to beat our ticket time.” It’s things like that. It's just so rewarding.
Question: What other context do people need to know, other than coming ready to order?
Chad Young: You will have a great experience at Mise En Place Bistro, and the food will be great. The hospitality will be great. The students are so excited to showcase their skills and to produce good food. The restaurant is beautifully designed, and it's all set up and decorated for spring. So we're ready. We're ready to open.
IF YOU GO: The Mise En Place Bistro, 2201 S. 18th St., at the Greater Lafayette Career Academy, will be open to the public from 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday during the final two weeks of April. (That’s April 19, 21, 26 and 28.) Enter Door 3 of the Greater Lafayette Career Academy to get to the bistro. For reservations, email Chef Chad Young at firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ins welcome, too.
Young adds one additional rule: No tipping allowed. “But we’d be more than grateful if someone was to leave a donation toward the culinary department, that will go toward field trips, scholarship and funding the program.” A donation jar will, he said, be clearly marked.
This and that …
UKRAINE AND PETS: Malathi Raghavan, a clinical associate professor at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, had a great take this week in the Los Angeles Times on the war in Ukraine and how pets and livestock have played central roles in how Ukrainians are sheltering and evacuating. Raghavan, who earned her doctor of veterinary medicine from the Ukrainian State Agricultural University in Kyiv, wrote about pleas and images coming from those forced to leave: “These are the people who realize that they are not returning home anytime soon. I’ve seen Ukrainians make desperate pleas on social media to residents in places like Mariupol, imploring those remaining behind to check on pets entrusted to family and friends, who themselves had to flee or have not been heard from in days.” Read the full piece here: Op-Ed: It’s not only human lives being upturned by the Russian invasion.
UKRAINE EFFORTS, CLOSER TO HOME: Members of Greater Lafayette and Purdue’s Ukrainian community will host a luncheon and art show from 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. May 8 at The Arts Federation, 638 North St. in Lafayette. Several artists have donated pieces for sale and lunch will be traditional Ukrainian fare – borsch, pierogi, stuffed cabbage leaves, pirozhki and crepes. Tickets are $40. Proceeds will go to the Ukrainian Red Cross and Voices of Children. To get tickets, here’s the site.
WEST LAFAYETTE TOWING CHARGES: WBAA reporter Ben Thorp gave a good overview of an issue likely to land soon in West Lafayette. The city limits how much towing companies may charge when impounding vehicles. The catch: That cap of $85 was set 20 years ago. Local companies say it’s time for an increase. For a good primer, including why West Lafayette might not be excited about raising that amount, here’s the link to the WBAA story.
AT TSC …: This didn’t go far Wednesday night at the Tippecanoe School Corp. board meeting, but just a heads up …
Thanks to Purdue Convocations for sponsoring this edition. Convos presents “Jersey Boys,” the Tony Award-winning story of Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons, Tuesday, April 19, at Purdue’s Elliott Hall of Music. For ticket information and special deals on the show, check the link below.
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